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Poetry

Poems for Parting

By Du Mu
Translated from Chinese by David Young & Jiann I. Lin
These ancient poems about the beginning and end of a love affair were written during the Tang Dynasty, considered the greatest era of Chinese poetry. Many poets of that era believed in seeing "the big within the small"—finding emotional or philosophical meanings through close observations of a few images.

1

So slender and so graceful
not much more than thirteen

the tip of a cardamom branch in spring
just about to bud

ten miles down the Yangzhou road
and the spring winds were blowing

lots of women since, bead curtains lifting,
but never like that again.

2

Too much love
somehow became
no love at all

over this farewell bottle
we can’t manage
even a friendly smile

only the candle
seems to be able
to generate some feeling

all night
it weeps
little wax tears.

English

1

So slender and so graceful
not much more than thirteen

the tip of a cardamom branch in spring
just about to bud

ten miles down the Yangzhou road
and the spring winds were blowing

lots of women since, bead curtains lifting,
but never like that again.

2

Too much love
somehow became
no love at all

over this farewell bottle
we can’t manage
even a friendly smile

only the candle
seems to be able
to generate some feeling

all night
it weeps
little wax tears.

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